Alex Pietrangelo is the top defenseman set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
He was due to become a free agent Wednesday, but because of the exceptional circumstances that halted the NHL season and wider world, there's still a chance he works out an extension with the St. Louis Blues, his team for all 12 years of his NHL career.
There are plenty of other solid defensemen who are also poised to enter free agency, and they will likely be more affordable than the St. Louis captain. While it's still unclear how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the league's salary cap, teams could be looking to save money until its impact on the bottom line is fully known.
Here are predictions for several of the top defensemen who should become free agents this offseason.
After spending the first eight seasons of his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche, Tyson Barrie was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. It could end up being Barrie's only season in Toronto, with the 28-year-old set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Maple Leafs may not be in a position to make a serious run at Barrie after the season, as they figure to have just $9 million in cap space next season, per Spotrac. They also have two defensemen in line to make at least $5 million apiece in Jacob Muzzin and Morgan Rielly.
It means Barrie could end up being the top defenseman to switch teams ahead of the 2020-21 season. And although his numbers haven't been great for the Maple Leafs (five goals and 34 assists in 70 games), he should still be an effective player away from the intense scrutiny that comes with playing in Toronto.
One fit for Barrie could be with the Winnipeg Jets, who need some help on defense after losing stalwarts Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot and Dustin Byfuglien in the past year. They have some solid youngsters, but Barrie could provide a veteran presence that leaves the team less reliant on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
There may not be a ton of long-term deals signed this offseason because of cap uncertainty, but the Jets could be in position to feel comfortable inking Barrie to a three-year deal to lead their defense for the near future.
Prediction: Barrie signs with Winnipeg for three years, $20 million.
Torey Krug has expressed interest in returning to the Boston Bruins. That's not surprising, with Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston sharing earlier this year that Krug's dog is even called Fenway in homage to his adopted home city.
The Bruins likely want to bring back Krug. He's spent his entire nine-year NHL career with the team, and he's been a consistent presence in their lineup for the past seven seasons. This term, Krug has nine goals and 40 assists over 60 games. Had the regular season been played out, he was likely to eclipse the 50-point mark for the fourth straight season.
The only thing that likely could stand in the way of a deal between Krug and the Bruins is money. The salary cap could limit how much flexibility Boston has this offseason, and the blueliner has proved to be worthy of a sizable contract. However, the length of the deal may be a sticking point; he's only 29, but teams may be put off by his injury history.
Therefore, perhaps the Bruins can get creative. Although they would likely want to sign Krug to a multiyear deal, both parties may have to settle on a one-year contract and potentially working out a bigger, longer pact once the salary cap goes up if they want to extend the relationship.
With Krug interested in returning to Boston, a franchise that should continue to be a Stanley Cup contender in the near future, expect him to find a way back to TD Garden in 2020-21.
Prediction: Krug re-signs with Boston for one year, $7.5 million.
If Krug is off the market, then T.J. Brodie will be one of the top left-handed defensemen. And while Brodie isn't quite on the same level as players like Pietrangelo, Krug and Barrie, he could be a more affordable option for a team seeking defensive help.
Brodie has spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the Calgary Flames, and if the regular season had been completed, he likely would have played in at least 70 games for the seventh straight season. He had four goals and 15 assists in 64 games, representing his lowest points total since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
If the Maple Leafs lose Barrie, they could be one of the teams looking to add Brodie, who might fit in nicely with their other defensemen. The Flames could also have interest in bringing back the 30-year-old.
The guess here is Barrie will depart Toronto and that Brodie will leave Calgary for the first time in his career to play for the Maple Leafs.
Prediction: Brodie signs with Toronto for three years, $14 million.